The Free Motion Quilting Project: Bent knees are okay here...

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Bent knees are okay here...

Leah Day | yoga pose
Well if that isn't the weirdest title to a blog post I've ever written! This is something my yoga teacher said yesterday that struck me as both funny and amazing all at the same time:

"And forward fold, place your hands on the floor. Bent knees are okay here....actually bent knees are okay for the rest of your life!"

Basically what she was saying is - it's okay to make this easy for yourself. 

And not just right here, for this particular forward's okay to make your life easier ALWAYS.

As soon as I heard my teacher say this, my face split into a crazy grin. I instantly loved this idea and kept repeating it to myself.

I love this idea because I'm usually working in the exact opposite direction. I'm the queen of complication. I over think things until I give myself a headache. I plan until I'm crazy overwhelmed with details, and then I plan some more just to make sure everything will be just right.

But sometimes, I just need to step back, take a break, and make my life easier, even if it's as simple as bending my knees so I can ease into a yoga pose, let my muscles relax, and then stand stronger within the pose for a longer period of time.

Leah Day | yoga pose

I know I've talked a lot this year about perfection - why we strive for it, but how it can also hold us back because the time taken to rip out every offending stitch is time we could be quilting and building skill.

Lately I've been trying to ease up on myself and practice what I've been preaching!

free motion quilting | Leah Day

More specifically, I've been quickly quilting through my batting test sandwiches. Because this is quick quilting, I've not bothered with quilting perfectly on the lines or even within the ditches, and my travel stitching is a total mess.

free motion quilting | Leah Day
When I think about this too much, it really starts to upset me! I will most likely take these samples with me to classes, where they will be seen by students and AHH! What if they SEE all that IMPERFECTION?! What will they THINK?!

Yes, this is what my brain likes to do. Run wild with accusations and "what if's" and obsess about the thoughts other people have, which I can't control even if I tried.

I know this, and these days I can at least smile at my silly brain, but it still takes effort not to pick up my seam ripper and obsessively rip out every imperfect stitch.

But when I think of that yoga line - it's okay to bend your knees, it's okay to be easy on yourself. It's okay! - I feel less panicked and more willing to accept myself and my stitches no matter how they look.

So yeah, that line of panicked thinking is still there, but today at least, I'm going to bend my knees, make my life a little easier, and focus on the fun of quilting all these squishy sandwiches and seeing what batting becomes my new favorite.

Isn't it nice to have a reminder that life really can be easy? Just bend your knees and ease into it!

Let's go quilt,



  1. Hi Leah,

    Let me begin with "I ADORE YOU"!! You are the most ground quilter I know. It is okay to make mistakes, but very, very few of us accept that. (Said the one who spent three hours ripping out a row of stitching Anyway, my son forwarded this to me a couple of days ago and yep, we live the try to be perfect life. No wonder my kids are so screwed up!! I've have neighbor, not close friends, but NEIGHBORS tell me I expect too much from people. have no idea what I expect from MYSELF!!!! Okay, so I'll try to go with the 'bent knees are okay' theory, try...

    Anyway, here's a link, interesting reading, and keep up the great work gal, we all love you!!!

    Hope it works....

  2. What's interesting is that what you see as an imperfection, I don't. In other words, it's beautiful work!

  3. This is such an affirming post. Thank you. You are a teacher on many subjects, not just quilting.

  4. p.s. Where is that little stone bench/table? I love it.

    1. Lol! It's a little bench in my front yard. We always take James's first and last day of school pictures here and I figured it'd be a nice spot to hop up for this photo.

  5. I think you must have posted the wrong photo, there is nothing about that quilting that's a "total mess" to me! It's perfect.

  6. Great thought and one I work hard on, too. I'm just now getting started on the Building Blocks QAL using the cheater cloth. I struggle with FMQ and knew this QAL was what I needed to FORCE myself to practice - lol. Today was the first time at the machine and I completed 3 blocks so I'm off to a good start now. I am working on doing a good job but I also am trying not to be too tough on myself, either. Ooooh, I'm feeling proud cuz they look pretty darn good - not perfect - and I'm not obsessing about the 'perfect'. :)

  7. I think your students are more likely to think "I can do this" if they see that even you have some imperfections, at least in your practice pieces, and it's still really impressive. :)

  8. Leah - you always ground me. Thank you. You validated what I secretly know but have a hard time practicing. Ironically my daughter shared with me today her new mantra "Progress NOT Perfection" that I immediately adopted!

  9. The wisdom of yoga is profound. I'm a teacher of yoga as well as a quilter, so I know how hard it is to WALK the talk...especially as I am a perfectionist, too. Not always a good thing... and I over-think everything, even when I'm posting comments!! It's reaffirming as a student to see that your teacher is human. Having said that, your quilting is jaw-dropping stunning, and your blog and FMQ website/videos truly inspiring. Thank you!
    email: ephdra(at)gmail(dot)com

  10. LOL. If you didn't over think things, we would not have the benefit of your wonderful work and your generous sharing. Thank you for being who you are!

  11. I, for one (or many!), am glad you didn't rip anything out. For it is so much more realistic to see "the experts" are human too. Mistakes and all. When the only access you have to someone, and that person chooses to show you the good pieces and the not-so-good pieces, it reassures you that "hey, maybe I CAN do that after all!"

  12. Since I have been doing your free motion course I find that I am more relaxed about errors and imperfections. I showed a friend my quilting of circles the other day and she said "Great - a man on a galloping horse would really appreciate that". So now I sit on a galloping horse whenever I quilt and get much more done with a lot less fuss.


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